Student Accommodation Options

What type of student accommodation should you choose when you come to learn English in Cape Town? We provide some pros and cons on student residence versus homestay.

student_accommodation | UCT English Language Centre

If you choose to study English at the UCT English Language Centre, then you will be able to choose between two types of accommodation that we can book and arrange for you – student residence or homestay.

In very simple terms, a student residence is a building which houses several rooms in which students live. Our student residence is located just 5 minutes walking distance from our language school in the city centre on Hiddingh campus at the University of Cape Town. Security is very high and apart from a fingerprint ID system for access control, and someone who permanently sits at he reception desk, the entire building is also equipped with CCTV cameras.

The pros:

  • The residence is exceptionally close to the school and students can fall out of bed in the morning and be at school in a few minutes. It also means students can return to the residence for lunch, if they wish, without compromising their lunch breaks before afternoon class starts.
  • The residence is very close to restaurants, bars, nightclubs, shops, banks, fast food restaurants, mosques, churches, cafes, public transport, museums, company gardens, etc. This means that students are optimally located right in the city centre and close to everything they need without having to go too far, hire a car, or spend too much money on access to essential things.
  • Students who share the residence become very good friends because there is the option of socialising when you don’t want to be alone. The shared kitchen encourages people to come together and talk. This also has a positive impact on your English learning because you will very probably be speaking English to someone who has a different language background to you. This will also present you with the best opportunity for learning about new cultures and countries, customs and traditions and will make for a fascinating experience. Students who opt for the student residence are also those most actively involved in the school social programme and participate in many different kids of activities.
  • English language students who have been here for some time already are best placed to advise and guide newcomers and provide tips on where to go, safety and security, etc etc.
  • Students are completely independent. As the student residence is self-catering, this means students can come and go as they wish, and they can eat whatever they want, whenever they want. 
  • All rooms have their own bathroom and no sharing is allowed, so all students have complete privacy in their rooms.

The cons:

  • If you are shy and tend to stay in your room alone, then it may get lonely for you in a student residence if you avoid the kitchen or the social room at the usual cooking/socialising times.
  • You will need to shop for your own food, cook it and then wash all your own dishes afterwards. You will also need to make sure you clean the kitchen after you have been using it for the other students.
  • You will need to share a kitchen with other people, and if you don’t have a laptop you will also need to share the social room and the television in there with other people.

Homestay is when students take a room in the home of someone who lives here. The vast majority of our homestay families have had many many years of experience in hosting students from all over the world. In general, our homestay options are roughly broken down into two categories. Option 1 is rooms inside homes that are located closer to the school in a more historical part of the city, or option 2 which includes rooms that are slightly further from the school but are located in more upmarket homes.

The Pros:

  • Breakfast and dinner are included every day of the week, so no fuss with shopping for food and then going home to prepare and then clean afterwards.
  • You will get to meet real South African hosts and see how South Africans live. This also means you will get to taste authentic South African food, get to know more about the country from the locals and all the things we love and complain about, as well as the insider tips on where to go and what to do.
  • Many of the hosts will have other international English language students staying with them and experiencing the same thing. This means that you will have the opportunity to meet other students and learn about their cultures. 
  • You will have to speak English with your host family, and this is a true immersion programme!

The Cons:

  • This option might be frustrating for people who are very independent as you will need to communicate regularly with your hosts about when you will be eating breakfast and dinner with them, what you do and don’t like.
  • You may have to share a bathroom with the family and/or other students.
  • While we always do our best to pair students and hosts up that we believe will be well suited, it does not always work.
  • Host families are not all located very close to the school and students will need to take public transport to get to school, if they do not have their own form of transport.

Obviously, you may choose other accommodation such as a hotel, bed and breakfast, hostel etc. for your stay in Cape Town. We can offer some advice and guidance, but bookings and arrangements will be largely left up to you in this case.

If you have any more questions about accommodation whilst learning English in Cape Town with our language school, then we welcome the opportunity to speak with you and give you as much information as you need. Our dedicated accommodation officer, Catherine, will answer all the questions you have about homestay, and you can also follow the Facebook page for more info and photos here



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